Spain on Thursday ended a six-game winless streak in Romania with a 2-1 victory in Euro 2020 qualifying.
Sergio Ramos and Paco Alcacer scored a goal in each half as La Roja solidified their lead in Group F. Spain have won all of their five qualifiers and have a five-point lead over second-placed Sweden, who routed the Faeroe Islands 4-0. Norway defeated Malta 2-0.
“Happy with the three points and with the overall performance,” Spain coach Robert Moreno said. “There are a few things we still have to correct. We were caught off-guard a few times in the defense.”
Spain had not won in their previous six trips to Romania, with four draws and two losses. They played the final 15 minutes with 10 men after a straight red card was shown to defender Diego Llorente for a foul to stop a dangerous breakaway by the hosts.
“I think we lacked intensity after the 2-0,” Ramos said. “We deserved the victory, but we can’t play like we did at the end of the match.”
It was Spain’s first match with Moreno as fulltime coach after Luis Enrique resigned in June because of his daughter’s illness. Moreno, Enrique’s former assistant, had been acting as interim manager since March.
Before the match a minute’s silence was observed in tribute to Enrique’s daughter, nine-year-old Xana, who died last week after a five-month battle with bone cancer.
Ramos put Spain ahead by converting a 29th-minute penalty after Dani Ceballos was fouled inside the penalty area.
It was Ramos’ 21st goal with the national team and fourth so far in the qualifiers. He is now tied with Michel Gonzalez for 10th on Spain’s all-time scoring list.
Alcacer added to Spain’s lead early in the second half with a close-range shot after a neat exchange of passes with Ceballos and Jordi Alba.
Romania pulled one back through a header by substitute Florin Andone in the 59th minute.
The hosts pressed after Llorente was sent off, but were not able to capitalize on their chances to equalize. Spain goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga made two outstanding saves from close-range strikes in the final minutes.
In Group J, Italy won 3-0 away in Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina thrashed Liechtenstein 5-0 and Finland edged Greece 1-0.
In Group D, Gibraltar were routed 6-0 at home by Denmark and Switzerland drew 1-1 in the Republic of Ireland, while in Group G, Israel and North Macedonia drew 1-1.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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